Often, when things aren’t going as planned, we can get into a bit of a rut. This usually means that we feel that everything around us, particularly our lives and the world around us, is bad, negative and not much good at all. When we are in this rut, we don’t even realise that our thoughts and feelings have fallen into this negative pattern - it seems to be pretty automatic.
When you are in this automatic, negative mode, things will happen that will trigger certain negative thoughts. These thoughts will often run through your mind quite quickly - much like cars on a highway in rushing through in peak-hour.
These thoughts will then link into other thoughts about things that have happened in the past. They will link into other worries and regrets, and also link into thoughts and worries about the future and what might happen. This process will happen automatically - often you aren’t even aware this has happened.
Thoughts play a central role in triggering and maintaining depression. For example, you may be overwhelmed by thoughts such as “am I doing well enough?”, “is my mood better today?”, “I think I’m feeling worse today, it’s happening again”, “I really want a drink”, “if I have a drink I’ll feel less anxious?”, “I think I’m feeling more like drinking today, it’s happening again” etc., and spend lots of time and energy making these judgements.
This “mind wandering” allows negative thoughts and feelings to keep running through your mind, feeding into a low or depressed mood and keeping you in a cycle of feeling bad, and perhaps like using alcohol or other drugs to help you cope.
However, by learning how to step out of “automatic pilot” you can keep a check on yourself, and learn to break this “automatic” cycle.